Wahaay! Santa is on his way and Christmas is just around the corner. A couple of past clients called in today to catch up and wish us our first Merry Christmas of the season. They were excited. They were flying back to London for a month to celebrate festivities with their family and friends. That got us all talking about what we look forward to when we’re back home, what the first thing would be that we would eat, and what British expats miss most from home. Here’s our thoughts…
1. A Proper ‘Cuppa’ Tea.
Brits are well known for their love of a good brew. Even here at the office Sarah and I have a secret stash of PG that we hide from our cay drinking Turkish colleagues (they just don’t appreciate it!). It’s just so hard to get English tea here in Fethiye without it costing a fortune in an import shop, and Lipton simply doesn’t crack it. Tea has to be one of the most requested “please can you bring me overs…” to friends and family that are visiting Turkey. The cases of expats flying back to Fethiye must be brimming with Tetley if they were ever searched at Dalaman Airport. A brew also has to be one of the most talked about expat topics in your Full English Breakfast serving bar. Discussions arise on, “is it the milk or the calcium content in the water that makes it a taste weird?” – even when all should be ok, you see the tell-tale triangle bag of PG in your cup, Brits will still question it. But one thing is for sure, tea does make us fully live up to our British tea-swilling stereotype – bring on the cucumber sarnies and Mr Kipling fancies!
2. A bit of Crumpet
Mmmm…crumpets! Puffy Warburtons or supermarket own, toasted until crisp served with a big knob of Anchor butter or a little Clover. Who’s with me on this? Crumpets rock and it’s a shame Migros doesn’t have a stock! According to a survey in the Daily Mail a couple of years ago, crumpets topped the list of food items expats missed most abroad. Personally, I agree. I can’t say the same for the others in the office, but they certainly agreed they deserve a mention.
3. Bisto Gravy Granules
Here we are again, living up to the British stereotype – gravy! What’s a Sunday roast without gravy? Turks generally don’t understand it, “it’s just watery sauce” I have heard said, but to a Brit, it’s far far more than that. Bisto granules are the easy gravy fix. There’s your traditional beef or chicken, your veggie or lamb, then there are the really tasty ‘chef special’ packets. You always get your snobs that say make your own gravy from scratch, but that takes time and effort – when you have none (or have simply bought a takeaway rotisserie bird), Bisto comes to the rescue. You can buy a small tub of the classics in the import and ‘pork’ shops here in Fethiye but again it does cost more so many choose to bring it from home.
4. Cadbury’s Chocolate.
Nom-nom…chocolate! Brits grow up on Cadbury’s. The wonderful smooth, melt-in-your-mouth milkiness is something that’s hard to forget and a world apart from Milka, Kinder and all the other try-hard Cadbury makes we get here in Turkey. Dairy Milk – a classic. Or maybe Fruit and Nut, or a bar of Wispa is more your style. It’s nearly Christmas, who misses the big blue tins of Roses? You know the ones…the one where everyone munches on the purple nut in caramel first, followed by the fudge and walnut whips and then by Boxing Day all you’re left with are the strawberry, coffee and orange creams rattling around the bottom of the tin. If you’re looking for a treat to bring your expat friend, bring Cadburys as it’s a safe bet!
5. Heinz Baked Beans
OK…yes, you can get Heinz beans in Azda or the import shops here but they average just under £2 a can – expensive! But, many do still pay the price and that goes to show you how potty Brits are for their beans. Be they served simply over toast with a dollop of HP, filling your jacket spud with some cheese, or as a key ingredient of your Full English, beans are a staple of the British diet and a well missed one at that.
6. Mature Cheddar Cheese
Feta, Lor, Kasar, Dil peynir…all fabulous Turkish cheeses but none top a chunk of mature British cheddar (maybe with a little Branston pickle). Cheese on toast isn’t the same here. ‘Yellow’ cheese is, quite frankly, tasteless in comparison with cheddar. Try as you may to buy anything Turkish that’s similar (there will be times where you convince yourself that ‘Izmir Tulum’ tastes just like it), you only have to be given a smidgen of the real stuff to know that you were really just lying to yourself. Brits in Turkey miss cheddar. Again import shops do peddle orange and white English or Irish cheddar, it does taste good if you like mild cheddar, it’s the closest you will get here, but unfortunately you don’t get nearly the choice you do back home.
7. McVities Ginger Nuts
What is it about McVities? The company was taken over by Ulker, a Turkish company, a few years back. I remember the excitement when Digestives started appearing on the shelves in Tansas…but they are tiny – yes, TINY! They are a fraction of the size of the ones back home and don’t even taste the same. We at the office were hoping that Ginger Nuts may have made an appearance too but no, no sign as yet and none on the horizon. Yes, you can get elf-sized digestives…but Ginger Nuts still need to be smuggled from home (along with jaffa cakes, custard creams, bourbons and hobnobs).
8. Paxo Sage and Onion Stuffing
Another link to the British love of roast dinners, and another questionable foodstuff for a Turk, is stuffing. Your Turkey this Christmas will be sure to feature stuffing of one form or another, probably just as your roast chicken dinner did last Sunday. Again, it can be found in the ‘Pork Shop’, but prepare to pay a lot for it. Paxo stuffing is another British classic that’s sure to feature heavily on the ‘please can you bring me?’ list.
9. Curry Paste / Powder
‘Kori’, that’s what the spice is called here in the tub on the Tuesday market. It may be ‘kori’, but it’s certainly not ‘curry’! I’m not really sure what you can create with the local version, but it certainly won’t taste anything like Pataks or something resembling a Balti or Masala. There are great curry restaurants in Hisaronu and Calis (Saffron, Shine, Curry Palace etc.), where you can get your fill of authentic flavours, but it’s hard to find any of the pre-mixed spices to let you rustle one up at home. There is a Kashmiri/English ex-pat in Ovacik that now runs ‘Spice Buddy’ packs that include a recipe and the pre-mixed spices to make a great curry (found on Facebook), or of-course the import shops again stock a few jars, but if you like a home cooked curry, buying a big bag of spice from the UK and bringing it back is by far the most affordable way to make the well-loved English/Asian dish.
10. Marks and Spencer Meal Deals
OK, this is my personal big miss. I used to love M&S food and I do really miss it, as does Sarah here in the office. Be it a lasagna, curry, beef wellington, fish pie or the quality of their fruit and veggies, everything Marks and Spencer does food wise rocks. What makes it worse is that expats watch English TV via satellite or Firesticks here in Turkey. We still have to endure the M&S Food adverts, especially on the run up to Christmas where a Turkey is slowly cut into slices and served up with the most amazing side dishes, or a chocolate fondant is being teasingly cut into and slowly devoured – it’s hell, we want one and the BIM or A101 frozen equivalent are just not the same. The meal for two for £10 offer they did was superb value for money – and included a bottle of wine. M&S we miss you, bring your food to Turkey (but please make it cheaper!).
We can’t complete the list without mentioning the British love for bacon, sausages, chops-chops and ham. Obviously, Turkey is a Muslim country so it’s not your traditional fare, but expats do miss their fill of a bacon butty. As its name would suggest, the “Pork Shop” does indeed deal in pork, but I haven’t spotted any smoky bacon rashers or any fancy pork-mix sausages, they simply have your standard classics. Pork products are something else I’m sure many cases carry.
Well there you have it, our list of what food British expats miss most from home. Do you agree? Are there thinks we’ve missed? Let’s have some fun and please comment and let us know what you miss as well.
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